Conservative government will make it harder for Labour to win power.
The Policy agenda laid out in the Queen’s speech is to convince voters that the leopard has changed its spots and that the government is the friend of the workingman and woman.
Attempting again to wear the mantle of one-nation Conservatism.
But its not just a hearts and minds job, there are taking practical steps to make Labour’s task of winning power much more difficult next time.
There are two strands to the strategy.
The first is to hit the party in their pocket. The device for this is the bill to change trade union law. The main purpose of bill is to make industrial action more difficult. Strikes in public services must be backed by 40% of eligible union members, and a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots. They also propose to lift restrictions on the use of agency staff to replace striking workers.
But why waste a trade union bill if it gives you an opportunity to put the boot into your political opponents. The Tories are never slow to take their chances
So they’ve aimed an Exocet directly at a major source of Labour funding – the political levy. 70 per cent of the party’s donations are from trade unions. But not for much longer if the government get their way.
Union members will have to opt-in to paying the political levy rather than having the right to opt out after being automatically enrolled.
Labour’s income will face a massive drop if this comes about.
In Northern Ireland, where an opt-in system already exists, just 40 per cent of members contribute, compared to 8.8 per cent who opt-out in the rest of UK.
The Tories already have considerably more money at their disposal than Labour. In 2014 they had £28,930,508 to Labour’s £18,747,702. This gap will certainly grow if the current proposals become law.
Poor people don’t vote
Alongside this financial advantage the second strand of the strategy comes into play - new constituency boundaries.
Not just redrawing the boundaries, but redrawing them on a new system. The plan is to base new constituencies on electoral registration, rather than population.
A technical point you may say. Yes, but and it’s a mighty big but for Labour. Urban and socially deprived areas where registration is low are likely to have fewer MPs per person than affluent areas where registration is high.
Now it doesn’t take a degree in political science to work out who gains in such a system. Some experts reckon that the current government’s majority of 12 would rise to about 50 under this new system.
Together they provide a double whammy to Labour’s election chances. Some serious thinking will be required if Labour is to overcome such disadvantage.
Electing a new leader is the easy bit; refashioning a party to face the new more arid political landscape is the challenge.